Wondering what’s the best way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai? In this article, I’m going to walk you through all your transportation options.
As soon as you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, escaping the city and heading towards Northern Thailand is not a bad idea.
Located around 700kms up North is a town called Chiang Mai. Known as a big cultural hub where tourists, locals, digital nomads meet. Given its popularity, there’s a variety of ways on how to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Whether you plan on taking the train, bus, or even a short flight, here are our recommendations on how to get to Chiang Mai (plus details on how to book your trip!)
Comparison Table on How to Chiang Mai from Bangkok
|Cost||Duration||How to Book|
|Flight||$15-100||1 hour 10 minutes||via 12go|
|Train||$28-41||11-15 hours||via 12go|
|Bus||$13-21||10-11 hours||via 12go|
✨The 1 Thing We Never Leave Home Without…✨
Coming from someone who has been traveling the world for the last 8 years AND has been in the hospital 2x, travel insurance is something everyone NEEDS to get. Get a quote below!
Flying to Chiang Mai from Bangkok
Cost: Anything from $15-100 depending on how early you book
Trip length: 1 hour 10 minutes
After you’re done exploring some of the sights in Bangkok and Pattaya, moving towards Northern Thailand is usually the next part of every traveler’s itinerary. If you don’t have a lot of time, catching a flight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is your best option.
Chiang Mai International airport is a mere 10-minute drive from the city center. Depending on when you book, flights can vary in price. In fact, if you book ahead of time, sometimes you can get pretty sweet deals. Click here to check flight prices
If you are thinking of taking an International flight directly to Chiang Mai, expect a short layover in Bangkok as most flights regularly stop there before flying to the North. Sometimes, even if you’re traveling on a budget, it pays to spend a few minutes checking flights as often, they’re almost the same price or just a little bit more than a train ticket.
Airlines that fly to Chiang Mai
- Air Mandalay
- Bangkok Airways
- China Airlines
- Korean air
- Lao Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Silk Air
- Thai AirAsia
- Thai Airways International
- Nok Air (You can pay for Nok Air Flights in some 711 stores!)
- SGA Air
Insider Tip: Before you book anything, make sure that you double check your baggage allowance. A lot of the budget carriers have baggage restrictions so double check before booking your flight.
Taking the Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Cost: The prices varies from $28-41 depending if you book a sleeper train or not.
Trip Length: 11-15 hours (Thai trains tend to run late)
The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is actually one of the most popular travel routes in the country. You have two options if you are traveling by train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. You can either take a day train which is somewhat cheaper, or you can opt to take the night train. Either way, traveling by train gives you a real feel of Thailand.
It’s a great way to interact with locals while seeing the countryside. The day train can get a little bit boring which is why we recommend doing the night train. Not only do you make the most out of your day, you also get to save money on accommodations that night. While it’s not a huge deal, saving a few bucks here and there only means more pad thai and khao soi’s when you get to Chiang Mai!
Top Tip: To save you time, you can check train schedules and book tickets ahead of time through 12go. Use the search widget below or click on the button below to find out the train schedules ahead of time.
If you do the sleeper train, get out of your bunk and go to watch the sunrise from the other carts-the view of the countryside is pretty beautiful. You have different options on the sleeper train, with seats varying from 3rd class wooden seats all the way to 1st class with air-conditioned bunks.
The choice is really yours! They sell food and drinks on the train but you might want to bring some snacks yourself as the food they sell on board is pricier than usual. There are about six trains that leave from Bangkok to Chiang Mai running from around 8.30am till 10.00pm. Likewise, there are at least six trains daily from Chiang Mai to Bangkok from 6.30am till 9.00pm.
How to Buy Train Tickets in Thailand
Nowadays, all long-distance express trains require a reservation, which can be made on the day of travel or up to 60 days in advance. Reservations are now computerized, and the booking office at any main station can reserve seats or berths for any journey in Thailand.
Please take note that a passport is now needed to book any train journey. It is also useful to know that they have a special ticket office in the Hualamphon Station just for foreigners. They have staff who speak English and they also accept credit cards!
Combo tickets to the islands are also available from here. You can also reserve a ticket via phone but you need to pick it up within 24 hours. However, if you don’t want to go through all this hassle, you can also book using the recommended website below.
Riding the Bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Cost: Price varies from 200-600 baht $13-$21 depending if it is a fan or an air-conditioned bus and where it drops you off.
Trip Length: 10-11 hours
After traveling most of Southeast Asia, I have come to the conclusion that long bus rides are part of the experience. Don’t worry as they trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is honestly not that bad. (The longest bus trip I’ve done was close to 30 hours, so trust me-I know what I’m talking about!)
Overall, the buses are fairly safe, punctual, and very affordable. You can book these bus trips from almost any tour agency in Bangkok. If you are staying anywhere near Khao San Road, you won’t run out of options.
The prices between all the agencies vary so best to walk and canvas around. You need to book at least a day in advance to avoid any inconveniences. If you don’t want to take the bus from Khao San Road, you can also take a Deluxe bus from Mo Chit Terminal. These buses often have a bus stewardess that will give you a snack and a bottle of water for your journey. A lot of tour agencies try to upsell you to get the VIP or deluxe bus-but really, they just put you on a regular one.
Insider Tip: Always keep your valuables with you at all times. There is a lot of theft that goes on in the buses (some bus attendants climb in and take your valuables while the bus is moving). To avoid this, make sure that you have your valuables close to you and that you take the time to lock your bags. A few padlocks and extra precautions will definitely turn off thieves as it often takes too much effort to try to open it.
Reminder: If you want to compare the prices of both flights, busses, we recommend checking either Bookaway or 12go to get a full comparison. We use these two sites to book transport tickets all over Asia. Check out these two websites as they also have full reviews for each bus company!
So, whether you’re flying, taking a bus, or taking the train, do make time to head up to Chiang Mai because it is awesome. There are lots to do, things to see, and food to eat! If you’re looking for a different experience, you can also try getting a Sak Yant in Chiang Mai which is a traditional tattoo done by monks. So what are you waiting for?
If you’re wondering how much money we’re talking about, check out this guide on Chiang Mai travel costs to get a better idea of how much you’ll need.
15 thoughts on “How to Get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai [Updated 2023]”
What an extensive guide! Thanks for sharing, Anna! Btw, just found out we have common friends in Subic! 🙂
I hope to come back to Thailand as well. These are some invaluable tips for transportation and expenses and I appreciate it. I want to experience their trains and buses since I missed out on them before!
The trains are fun….but long. I recommend trains over buses.
Thanks for sharing these tips! I am excited to head to Thailand someday–hopefully soon! I think I’d pick the train if we had time for it–we always love traveling by train, and the price is right in the middle of the other too, which is nice. Plus, watching the sunrise out the window on an overnight train would be pretty amazing!
I’d really love to do that train journey and watch the sun rise! Which did you prefer, the train or the bus? Beautiful first photo as well!
Definitely the train journey. More room to move around!!
Before I say anything, one question. How did you take the 2nd shot? 🙂
Never been to Chiang Mai so this post comes handy for tips. Most probably we’ll try air or bus.
Thanks for sharing.
Although I’ve only ever flown I think the bus route could be quite great if you have the time – must be pretty nice to take in the countryside around you
I personally prefer the train over the bus as it is a lot more comfortable! Great views too.
Great overview! We took the day train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and enjoyed it a lot. It took a long time but it was great to watch the landscape and for us more comfortable than a bus. More space to walk around and have a stretch.
Thanks! We are planning on heading back to Thailand next year and will probably fly into BKK. Is the train ride scenic at all? We love the cheap flights within Asia, but love train rides, too!
The day train is pretty scenic…the night train does boast of awesome sunrise views the next day.
I flew Air Asia from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for less than $50. It’s no frills, but clean and on-time. Everything is a la carte so be prepared to pay extra even for a water, but for such a short a flight it was by far the best option for me and the amount of time I had for travel.
YES! Some even go as low as $39!
We’ve done this journey both by flying and bus. The flights with Nok Air are the best – they really take care of you. Air Asia on the other hand…..!!! The buses are incredible – ours were cheap and had massages on the seats. Didn’t try the train – so that’s one for next time we’re there.